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The Pale Web: Reboot

Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
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#1
After long consideration, I've decided that whilst I enjoyed the basic idea of The Pale Web, I didn't execute it that well. In this light, I have redrafted, and will now be posting chapters regularly.

For new readers, this is the tale of a young Blood Dragon who loses her sire soon after turning, is adopted by a Lahmian, and her struggles between her two upbringings, along with various friends and enemies along the way. There are several references to the massive roleplay The Vampire Council as well.

The Pale Web

One

After congratulating her brother on his new posting at a barracks, Lucinia Hadris turned for home. It was perhaps not the best idea to be wandering about at night, but with her armour and weapons she felt confident,.

That was, until the crimson-haired young woman approached a bridge guarded by a knight in darkest blue plate. He turned his horse her way, and issued a challenge in a deep voice.

“I, Sir Luis of Bretonnia, challenge you for passage of this bridge.”
“I don’t want trouble,” Luicnia protested. What interest did a knight of Bretonnia have in some young Imperial, besides? “I’m just going home for the night.”
Luis shook his head. “Your intentions prior are irrelevant. I seek the greatest challenges to face, and I am curious as to the stock of this area.”
“I’m hardly a warrior at all.,” Lucinia insisted desperately. “I just visit the barracks from time to time.” That wasn’t a good move, she realised too late.
“Your sword is of good make,” Sir Luis noted. “And who just visits a barracks? You must be some warrior. Or perhaps you will show me this barracks?” he suggested.
“No!” Lucinia shouted, sea-blue eyes flashing. Her confusion was now replaced by anger. She grit her teeth. This monster had no right to go about butchering people for a 'challenge,' and Luicnia had no intention of allowing her brother to be slaughtered - something told her Sir Luis was very, very dangerous even for a whole barracks.
"I do as I please, child. Now, show me this barracks," he demanded. "I prefer duels, but variety is always pleasant."
"I will not," Lucinia said fiercely.
Sir Luis drew his sword. "Your stubborness amuses me. Perhaps I shall offer you a deal."
"What deal?" Lucinia clasped her sword in both hands. If she were to die, she would die well.
"Impress me, and I shall leave the barracks in peace. I swear this on my honour as a warrior."
Lucinia raised an eyebrow. "Not as a knight?"
Sir Luis growled. "Do not question my honour. Now, what is your answer?"
"I'll die either way, will I not?" Lucinia muttered.
"No."
"But iif I refuse, everyone dies."
"Yes, child."
Lucinia tensed. Shewas hardly a child, and found that quite insulting. Her brow furrowed in thought. "Promise to uphold your offer, and I accept."

Luicnia had never encountered such skill. Sir Luis had dismounted, but it made little difference. His blade was as if the wind was made of spikes, cutting Lucinia no matter how she tried to defend herself. Quickly, she was covered in many small wounds, and struggling to stand.
Luis stepped back, and tilted his helmet. "You lack proper training and skill, but not courage or potential."
Lucinia gasped, and slashed at him.
Sir Luis deftly caught the blow and slid her sword down his. "As I said, you do not lakc courage."
"Just kill me, will you?" Lucinia spat. She hated this mockery.
"I am unsure. You are...not to be discarded as many of my other opponents are."
"What do you mean?" Laboured breathing told Lucinia she was probably too injured to live much longer.
Sir Luis removed his helmet, revealing dark hair and eyes. His face was impossible to age - not young, not old. His eyes looked neither old nor young, too. His gaze was intense, making Lucinia look away. Somehow, his skin was impossibly pale, as if he had never seen the sun.
Even without the helmet Sir Luis' voice was powerful. "Face me, child. I have a further offer."
At that point Lucinia's legs decided to give out, and she collapsed. She looked up at the giant warrior, who knelt. "What do you know of the creatures of the night, of Sylvania?"
Lucinia had heard much legend about that cursed place, and the very word made her uncomfortable in ways she couldn't describe. "I have heard of its rulers," she admitted.
"Dark creatures who drink the blood of mortals to survive."
Lucinia nodded uncomfortably.
"There is much darkness within those of SYlvania. But one's form is not one;s master. Do you know of the three elves?"
"No."
"The Asur are high and noble. The Asrai and mischievous forest dwellers. The Druchii are pirates. All are elves."
"What does this have to do with vampires?"
"Some are lords of darkness who seek to subjugate all. Some are normal people with a special diet. Others are great warriors who seek the greatest challenges."
Lucinia blinked. Then her brain caught up. "You...?" Her throat seized.
Sir Luis' face warped, revealing amonstrous visage for a fraction of a second befroe returnig to human form. "Yes. I am vampire. I seek the greatest foes to saly, to one day end my thirst."
"You think a...child, as you call me, will hep that?"
Sir Luis, for the first time, laughed. It was not a pleasant sound. "You are irrelevant to that goal. But I see you could do well as one of us. You have the courage and potential skill, and the honour."
"I will not live by killing others," Lucinia spat. The thought horrified her more than anything else. "So just end it now."
Sir Luis smiled. "You need not kill humans. There are many orcs and Druchii."
"I meant, I won't live off others."
"As you live off pigs and sheep now?"
"Well, they don't talk back. And won't ever be my friends."
"It is best not to forge friendships among mortals once you cross over. But an eternal companionship can be..." Sir Lus stared into the distance, and stopped talking.
His face was impassive, but Lucinia suspected he had been hurt at some point and still felt it.
Sir Luis shook his head. "With forever to train, you could watch over your family, without them knowing it."
"My family is quite safe."
"For now. But what about the future?"
"Just kill me."
"Must you die?" Sir Luis lifted her head by the chin to face his eyes. "Will you let the darkness claim you, or master it?"
"I would prefer to survive," Lucinia mused. One part of her scolded her for weakness. Another part scolded that part for clinging to principle.
"You do not even have to drain someone fully each time. And some vampires fidn humans willing to give their blood." Luis' tone told Lucinia he disapproved of this.
Now that she had some form of survival to cling to, Lucinia's protests started to weaken. Eventually, she completely gave in.
 
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Count Vashra

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#2
Two

Lucinia found herself in a strange world. It resembled her home, but the colours were all off, and outside was only darkness.
She heard a voice eerily like her own behind her. “Welcome, Hadris.”
Lucinia spun to see – herself. Well, a deathly pale, black-eyed version of herself. But she could recognise the medium size, the strong muscles, the crimson hair, and the always-friendly expression on the face. She was even wearing a black-coloured version of Lucinia’s red garments.
“Ah, hello," Lucinia said uncertainly, nervously tensing. It was quite disconcerting to see a copy of herself.
The vision of herself laughed. “You may call me Shadow-of-Doubt. I am a mind-warden. Each vampire – what you are now – has one, to protect their minds for magical assault, to advise, and, well, be a skeptic.”
Lucinia shook her head. This was some foreign creature? That only disturbed ehr more. "I have never heard of such a thing."
"I am unsurprised. My kind are each vampire's secret. All vampires have one, but it is considered rude to talk about them."
Lucinia frowned, feeling skeptical herself. "A useful cover story."
The reflection of herself nodded. "I know." It looked into her eyes. "But please believe me. I was created as part of the transformation process." Shrug. "And believe me or not, I will be in your head for the rest of your life, so you may as well get used to me."
""You have a point there. And I do like the idea of a constant companion."
Shadow-of-Doubt laughed. "I feel quite the same way. I should have hated to live in someone who did not like me." She tapped the bed beside her. "Please sit.
Lucinia obliged.
"If we are to be constant companions, Hadris, I would prefer to be called Shadow."
Lucinia smiled. "Of course."
"And do you have apreferred name?"
"Hadris is fine."
"You are very fortunate to have Luis as your teacher. He is fair, if strict and unreasonable about magic. And do try not to befriend any other vampires without his knwoledge."
Lucinia raised an eyebrow. "Why not?"
"He is...very protective of his squires."
Lucinia shook her head, amused. "I am hardly the type to run off with some boy."
Shadow looked disappointed. "Then I suppose he will have no problems from you. Assuming you can survive his training. When I said fair, I meant equal hardship for everyone. And you are, for now, still practically a 20-year-old human."
Luicnia's eyes blazed. "I will impress him."
"I hope so," Shadow said darkly.
Lucinia hugged her new companion. "Have faith in me."
Shadow returned the hug, and a brilliant smile. "I am not supposed to have faith in you, hadris, but I will try."

Lucinia woke on a wooden floor. Blinking, she felt about herself for her multiple wounds, but, to her surprise, found nothing. If this was a benefit of vampirism, like her mind-warden, and not simply evidence of a month-long torpor, she liked it.

She noticed her armour and weapons hung from a rack, which was very reassuring. Lucinia got to her feet and walked over to it, noting al the dents had been repaired and the blood cleaned. Sir Luis had obviously gone to some effort for his new…apprentice?
“You admire my effort?” he asked.
Lucinia turned, to find him in street clothes. He looked no less dangerous, but a lot more relaxed. “Yes. Good morning. I mean, good night,” she corrected with nervous laughter and red cheeks.
Sir Luis smiled. “That one always trips them. I do like to make my children feel appreciated.”
Lucinia nodded. “Thank yuo, Master.”
“Father will do. I have always wanted a daughter, even if only for the duration of knightly training.”
“Thank you, Master," Lucinia insisted, stressing the word. It seemed strange ton refer to someone who had just, in a way, killed her as her father, and she was in no mood to do so.
“I shall begin training you now. Take up your weapons and meet me outside.”

Outside was a sizable yard. Lucinia took her position.
Luis smiled, shaking his head. “Wrong, completely wrong.”
The night was spent instructing Lucinia on correct stances. She had no idea how meticulous one could be.
"Is this level of scrutiny necessary?" she demanded after several hours.
Sir Luis frowned. “I have centuries of experience. I want to see it put to good use.”
“Naturally,” Lucinia grunted, arms beginning to lock from a long-held pose.
“You may finish. I should explain about the bloodlines.”
Lucinia listened excitedly. This was a far greater tale than any she had heard. A kingdom in the desert playing with magic, a queen corrupting her court, a warrior seeking to be the greatest in the world. Aristocrats who fed on their subjects quite literally (”arrogance, the height of arrogance”). Ladies who preyed on the wealthy and sought to corrupt the Empire. (“Entirely dishonourable”). Sorcerers who studied dark arts and lived on twisting magic. (“Insane”). And devolved vampires who lived as beasts. (“Mindless unfortunates”).
“So you can see, we are the best bloodline. Who else can claim to have an active Master?”
“I should love to meet my grandfather,” Lucinia gasped in awe. She had some idea how powerful Sir Luis was. How much greater would be the one who had made him? She had to meet his master.
“In a few centuries, when you are ready. He is stricter, stricter than I.” A shadow passed over Luis’ face. “Now, to bed. We shall continue tomorrow night.”
“Yes, Father,” Lucinia said, looking forward to Shadow, but not another night’s training.
 
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Borgnine

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#3
This seems interesting and promising!

It seems rather fast at some moments - for example, the simplicity of Lucinia's decision about becoming a Vampire - I found it a bit too straightforward for such a dramatic change in one's life - but I understand that's not the most important part about this story :) I am looking forward to more chapters.

Is the mind-warden your own invention, or was it mentioned in some existing WFB lore?

Also, I noticed a typo "The second rule: I shall be in yur dreams when you need me (...)”
 

Count Vashra

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#4
Thanks.

Yes, I know it's unrealistic, but you could consider it a time compression or something. As you said, it's not the most important part.

As for the mind-warden...it's my own invention, but it's not an addition to what vampires are - there's a reason it's telling Lucinia not to talk about it.

Three

It was time, Sir Luis had decided, to learn to control the blood thirst. He took Lucinia to a road where many warriors passed, and told her to wait on it.
“Challenge any who come. Defeat them, and Drink from them. Only what you need. Nothing more.”
"You said I would not have to eat humans," Lucinia protested, sea-blue eyes burning with anger. If this was what Sir Luis did with all his apprentices, she was not so impressed with him.
Sir Luis looked at her. "Orcs and Druchii are too dangerous for a young blood. And warriors of our blood do not take from those who cannot fight.
"What about criminals, or allowing myself to get mugged?"
"That is beneath the dignity of any child of mine," Sir Luis growled, eyes glowing. He cocked a brow. "Our kind have standards and rules. You must llve by them."
"Lucinia sagged, the fight gone out of her. It was hard to disagree with someone who could gut her with a thought. "Yes, Master."

Eventually, a soldier approached.
Reluctantly, Lucinia braced herself, and challenged him.
Lucinia traded blows, surprised by how strong she now was, and drawn by the blood she sensed. She needed to drink it, she knew. She quickly finished the warrior, and proceeded to rip off his helmet.
Luis appeared. “Remember, only what you need.”
Lucinia nodded reluctantly. Why restrict herself? There was so much blood here! She extended new fangs and bit deep, savouring the taste. Crimson liquid ran down her throat, only inflaming her appetite.
Then she felt herself dragged away. But she had not even started! It was so good! Lucinia fought, but Sir Luis was too strong.
“I said, only what you need.” He looked annoyed, but not angry. “We shall remain here every night, until you learn to control yourself, my daughter.” He dismissively smashed the Imperial to the ground.
Lucinia sighed, torn between anger at being denied and disappointment at having failed. “Yes, Master”


After several nights of road duty, and several days of Shadow expressing doubt she would ever succeed, as well as mocking the guilt she felt, and the disgust at blood-drinking, Lucinia found herself with an entirely different proposition.
At dusk she went from the house to the road as usual, and waited for someone to challenge. Sir Luis had disappeared, as he usually did.
Instead of some armoured knight, however, the first person to approach was an extremely beautiful woman.
Lucinia gasped in astonishment. The woman had long blonde hair, a black, sleeveless dress and black eyes, along with a tall, slender form. Lucinia felt quite unable to challenge her, even if she had been armed.
“Good evening,” the woman said in a voice as perfect as her smile.
“Good evening, madam," Lucinia replied numbly. Her brain was simply overwhelmed, and she hoped her face was not betraying her.
Like waves retreating from a beach, the ethereal beauty disappeared, and though the lady was still enthralling , Lucinia coudl think properly.
"I do apologise. I do that to just about everybody I meet." The apology was so genuine it was impossible to doubt.
"I understand, madam. I forgive you."
"We should leave the road and talk."

When they were off the road, the woman offered her hand. “Annabella Castellan, of the Lahmian bloodline. Yes, I can smell your Blood Dragon.”
“I should have known, I apologise.” Sir Luis had said Lahmians were like this. Lucinia scolded herself. Maybe she had been to entranced to notice. She smiled nervously.
Annabella shook her head gracefully. “I doubt you could have recognised me. You seem so young.”
“A few weeks at most,” Lucinia admitted.
“Congratulations. Though, I would have preferred one of my line to have taken you.” Annabella laughed in her honey-sweet voice. “I am only joking. I am sure you love your sire. I mean, do you? I should not presume. Please, fro give me."
Lucinia grinned. "I undertsand. And please stop apologising.
Annabella brushed Lucinia's crimson hair. The Blood Dragon did not protest. "I understand that is my great weakness. And, yous ire?"
“My…ah, yes. Master – Sir Luis – is very good to me, if strict.”
Annabella cocked a brow. “Sir Luis? Of Bretonnia?”
Lucinia nodded. “Yes, Annabella.” That suggested, her scrambled brain told her, Annabella knew him. She wondered how.
“I know him very well. He is very good at heart, if distrusting of others. Has he lectured you about the other lines yet?”
“Yes.”
Annabella nodded. I" am unsurprised. I shall admit to not living up to his standards of honour, but what is better, live pragmatism or dead honour?”
Lucinia shook her head. “If you don’t live by a code, you’re not living at all.” Sir Luis had spent weeks instilling it into her, into her bones and blood.
“Technically, we’re not alive regardless.”
Lucinia shrugged. It was hardly the point.
“Now, I should be going. Luis and I have…history I would rather not revisit in front of a child.”
“I am hardly a child,” Lucinia protested.
“You are less than a month turned. I am 800 years.”
Lucinia’s eyes widened. “Really?” In that case, she was a child compared to Annabella. In a way that felt...right.
Black eyes glowed with warmth. as a delicate hand brushed hair “You may achieve that if you are careful, Lucinia.”
Just as Annabella went to leave, Sir Luis returned.
“Lucinia!” he growled, face near-monstrous. “Get away from that Lahmian! I warned you to avoid contact with others.”
“Farewell, Annabella,” Lucinia said as she moved away.
“Farewell, Lucinia,. Annabella looked and sounded quite unrepentant, with a playful smile.
“Go back to the house for the rest of the night, and do not disobey me again. Annabella, remain here so I may remind you of where we stand.”
That sounded harsh, but Lucinia had survival instincts. “Yes, Father.”


“You idiot,” Shadow said almost as soon as Lucinia closed her eyes. Her mind-warden had her arms folded and looked angry. Lucinia wondered if she had ever looked that way. “You were warned not to.”
“But she was so beautiful, and friendly, and…” Lucinia trailed off under Shadow's glare.
“That is what Lahmians do, Hadris. They get into you, make you want them, and then, they cut you. Of all the lines, they are the most dangerous. And, she nearly sensed me.”
“I thought all vampires had mind-wardens,” Lucinia protestedt, confused.
Now Shadow looked even more angry. “You promised to keep me a secret. And I know your honour.”
“I am sorry,” Lucinia said. “I shall try to avoid her.”
“And other strong magic users. I will not be pried into.”
“I would not want you to be,” Lucinia assured her. Shadow felt increasingly like a twin sister, and in more than just appearance. She was someone she could pour all her secrets out to. Shadow had promised she did not seek out Lucinia’s memories, only emotions, and everything else was completely voluntary. “But what of this history? If something is wrong between them, well, Master…”
“Sir Luis can manage himself. It is not for a child to meddle in such things. And besides, you cannot even drink properly.”
“I try,” Lucinia insisted. She hated when Shadow was on sleptic duty.
Shadow’s gaze hardened. “Trying isn’t enough. What if you eat too much and become some monstrosity?”
“How? And how do you know anything other than what I know?”
Shadow shruggedand put her hand on Lucinia's shoulder. “Blood, magic. They never go well together. Just control yourself, alright?”
“Alright.”
 
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Count Vashra

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#5
Four

When Lucinia, after several years, got her thirst under control,Sir Luis rewarded her by taking her to a joust. Not just any joust: This was a contest for vampires only, being put on ty the von Carsteins in Sylvania. Castle Drakenhof could be seen in the distance.

“Normally I would not want you meeting other vampires,” Sir Luis said. “but this is a place of truce, where the only fighting is between the contestants. Mingle as you will.”

Lucinia, equally surprised and pleased, ran off into the forecourt, where dozens of vampires – so many blood types! – were moving about and speaking to each other.
Lucinia found one standing apart from all the others. He was a distinctive, raven-haired, sharp-nosed vampire resting against a wall. His clothes were dark, and included a limp cape. Lucinia approached him.
“Hello, are you having a good night?” She put on her friendliest face and sweetest voice.
“That depends,” he replied, not facing her. “On the one hand, my parents want me to prove myself in some stupid contest. On the other, I can watch all these others kill each other. Less competition is always good.”
“Ah, I suppose, yes,” Lucinia laughed nervously. There was a bat sigil indicating the vampire’s bloodline, and right now he was confirming the idea that that family was arrogant.
Then he smiled. “I was joking, my lady. I shall enjoy testing my skills against others in an environment where I need not fear tripping other a spider’s web.”
“It must be a relief, then,” Lucinia laughed, relieved.
Emerald eyes glowed. “Indeed. Now, let me introduce myself. Ruben von Carstein.”
“Lucinia Hadris of the Blood Dragons,” Lucinia said proudly, standing up as tall as she could. She would not humiliate her family.
“I suppose you cannot wait to satisfy your honour in the joust, then.”
“I am only here as a spectator. My sire is rewarding me for controlling my blood thirst.”
Ruben smiled in an entirely non-condescending way, surprising Lucinia. “Good on you. I achieved that 200 years ago.”
“Ruben, who is that girl?” A brown-haired young (apparently) woman ran over to him.
Lucinia scolded herself, and blinked at the new arival, flikcing her gaze between her and Ruben. “Oh, my name is Lucinia Hadris, of the Blood Dragons. I was just talking to him. If he was…well, someone to you…er…” She started backing away, half expecting fangs through her neck.
Instead, the newcomer clapped her shoulder and said, “Welcome, fellow child of Lord Abhorash.” Ruben winced. “I do it to tease him. I am glad to see a fellow Blood Dragon hair. I am Georgina Draconia, of the Blood Monastery.”
“The what?”
Georgina groaned, emerald eyes flashing. “Does no one know? It is an order of Blood Dragons – no, not the Order of the Blood Dragon – dedicated to worship of Lord Abhorash. You have to join it. Many of us are here.”
“We mostly communicate through letter,” Ruben explained. “The only non-Blood Dragons allowed in are mortals in training. I have to sit in my old castle all night and ‘learn to be a lord’, or something.”
Georgina put a finger on Ruben’s lips, playfully shushing him. “You shall be a most perfect lord, and I shall be your bodyguard.”
“The first time I met a vampire of another line I got yelled at and sent home. Well, to the house we were using at the time.” Lucinia somehow felt comfortable enough with these two to laugh about her own misfortunes.
“Poor hatchling,” Ruben teased, lips unsealed, eyes sparkling.
“I prefer young blood,” Lucinia said, fixing him with a stared.
Ruben muttered an apology, looking away.
“That is unfortunate, though,” Georgina said. The Blood Dragon wore soft fabrics, evidently to reduce chafing from her armour. “I am allowed out of the Monastery sometimes. And allowed to meet others.” She cocked a brow. “My father is the Grand Marshall os the Blood Monastery – and no, I don’t know his name either. Who is yours?”
“Sir Luis of Bretonnia."
Georgina hugged her. “So we are cousins, then! How wonderful."
“Excellent,” Lucinia agreed, grinning. Georgina seemed a perfect cousin. And Ruben, by extension.
“I am glad to see you have found a wonderful cousin, Scales,” Ruben said, looking equally delighted for his – Lucinia tactfully decided to call them friends for now.
“Thank you, Wings.” Georgina hugged him.
“My joust is next,” Ruben said. The skies darkened, and thunder boomed. Ruben seemed to grow taller. “You two go to the stands and clap for your lord and master.”
“Stop it, Wings,” Georgina warned affectionately, slapping him.
Ruben muttered something and walked off.
“Does he do this often?” Lucinia asked when Ruben was gone, staring a tthe retreating figure in wonderment.
Georgina nodded emphatically. “He is an arrogant von Carstein. It does not help he can control the weather."
Luicnia's eyes widened. "That was him?" she asked incredulously.
"Yes," Georgina replied proudly.
“Why do you call him Wings? Does he fly?”
Georgina smiled. “He’s the best flyer I have ever seen. I wish we Blood Dragons had some special ability.”
“You could probably knock him to the ground on your worst day,” Lucinia said reassuringly.
Georgina laughed. “True. Now, let us go watch some actual jouster knock him off his horse.”
“That is not very supportive,” Lucinia pointed out.
“My vampire, my opinions.”

Afterwards, they met in a pavilion. It would be light soon, and here some coffins had been set up.
“You did well, Wings,” Georgina said proudly. Her eyes glowed with warmth, and she squeezed his shoulder.
“Thank you, Scales,” Ruben answered. He looked just as fresh as ever, much to Lucinia’s irritation. Her line was made for fighting!
“I wonder if you really need a bodyguard,” Jealous or not, Lucinia had been impressed by the von Carstein.
“Why fight when I have a loyal servant to do it for me?” Ruben asked, earning a glare from Georgina that did nothing to change his attitude.
“You just like taking credit for other people’s efforts.”
Ruben shrugged. “Anything helps.”
Lucinia stifled a yawn. “I need to go to sleep. You two enjoy yourselves.”
“Wings, go ahead. I need a word with my little cousin.”
“See you tomorrow night, hopefully,” Ruben said, embracing her.
“You, too,” Lucinia replied eagerly. She loved her new friends.
Georgina coughed. “A word of advice, little cousin. If you cannot handle being embarrassed in public, do not have more than acquaintances.”
Lucinia smiled. “One last thing. How old were you?”
“21. What about you.”
Lucinia grinned triumphantly. “25, little cousin.”
“Do you want me to bite you?” Georgina asked, ifangs bared.
“No.”
“Then forget that. Our mortal ages make no difference.”
Lucinia laughed. “Have it your way, little cousin.”
Georgina turned on her heel and stormed out. “Good morning, hatchling.”

Lucinia found Shadow in a copy of the jousting arena. The mind-warden was looking, well, doubtful, as usual.
“Oh, give me a chance, Shadow. I love them.”
“The von Carstein is as scheming and arrogant as the rest of his line. And the Blood Dragon will think you are stealing her mate. And the von Carstein might sense me.”
“I would never steal someone’s mate. You know that. And I think Ruben is too distracted to sense a warpstone pyramid.”
“That may be true, but do not take the chance, Hadris.," Shadow begged, looking, surrpissingly, desperate and vulnerable.
“I will look after you, Shadow," Luicnia promised soothingly, hugging her companion.
“One last thing. I liked how you pointed out you were actually older than the Blood Dragon.” Shadow’s face flickered with a smile.
Lucinia laughed as the dream faded.
 
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Borgnine

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#6
I really enjoy this series :thumbsup: The characters are really flavourful. At first, I found Lucinia a bit too childish, but when I think about it, she's 25 and still a fledgling vampire, that actually fits. I am looking forward to more ;)
 

Count Vashra

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#7
Thanks.
Lucinia being childish is kind of the point. :) Also, I always treat my vampires as having locked emotionally as well as physically upon turning.

Five

Several nights later, Lucinia was talking with Georgina and Ruben before a match started. She was seated to Georgina’s left, with Ruben on her cousin’s other side.
“So, how does a member of a reclusive group meet up with the heir to a grand castle?”
“We sometimes do mercenary work for other vampires. Ruben’s parents hired a group including me, and I found him worth staying in contact with. By secret messenger bat, of course. Controlling animals is such a useful power,” Georgina finished enviously.
“I imagine so.” It seemed as if Ruben had every power his family could have, which seemed very unfair fro Lucinia, whose family's only power seemed enhanced phsyical abilities.
“I don’t get to exercise it often,” Ruben said bitterly. “I am usually stuck inside learning lord business.”
Lucinia rolled her eyes. "Yes, but you have all these powers, and Georgina and I are stuck with better fighting."
Ruben smiled. “You have a point.”
“What a surpise to see you here, Lucinia.”
Lucinia turned her head and saw Annabella taking a seat beside her. “Hello, Annabella. Master said I should see how other vampires fight. Learn their strengths and weaknesses.”
“A good plan. And will you introduce me to your two beautiful companions?”
Internally laughing at Ruben’s blush and Gerogina’s scowl, Lucinia introduced her new friends.
“Ah, the Blood Monastery.” Annabella frowned, and then her smile returned. “Annabella Castellan of the Lahmians, 2nd generation.”
“A Lahmian.” Georgina looked unimpressed. “I am unsure if you could take me in a simple fight without your tricks.”
“Is that all children of Abhorash think of?” Annabella teased, eyes flashing.
That made Lucinia uncomfortable, for she really just turned so she could swing a sword forever. But it was too late for reflections like that.
“Please, honourable combat is the only true test,” Georgina said, face hard with determination.
“I have met one your kind before,” Ruben said, eyes distant. “She was so perfect.”
Georgina slapped him. “And she was planning to marry you, put you in your coffin and throw away the key, and rule your lands.” Her voice softened. “Lovestruck idiot.”
“I do not plan to trick anyone Lucinia considers her friends,” Annabella assured them, an amused glint in her eye. “I am delighted you have bonded so well, Lucinia.”
“Thank you,” Lucinia replied, grinning. “Now, it looks as if the match is starting.”
Georgina’s emerald eyes firmed. “Annabella, we are fighting after this. No magic.”
“As you wish, child.”


Seated in a grand box at the head of the large fighting arena were a number of vampires, whose ancient power washed over Lucinia’s magic senses. Von Carstein heraldry fluttered despite there being no breeze. In the centre sat the strongest source of the magic, a well-appointed man in lordly garments. His bald head only added to his dark majesty. Around him sat a few others of similar power and majesty.
A wave of magic, demanding submission, washed over the stands. Lucinia felt some it blocked, presumably by Shadow, and was grateful for her mind-warden. Annabella seemed unaffected, Georgina looked insulted and Ruben seemed to be fighting to stay in control of himself. Georgina’s hand closed around his, and he asserted himself. However close their relationship, they clearly supported one another strongly, and Lucinia admired that. She was sure Georgina would go on to be Ruben’s champion.
“Lords, ladies, guests, warriors,” a powerful voice boomed out.
“Count Mannfred von Carstein, lord of Sylvania,” Ruben whispered.
Lucinia swallowed. She had heard of this very unpleasant – understatement, probably – man.
“Welcome to the second week of the Sylvanian Blood Wars. We have tested the competitors in honourable joust, and I an unsurprised by the result. Tonight, there shall be no honour. This shall be a fight to prove the supremacy of a bloodline for the next decade.”
“Weren’t you jousting last night?” Lucinia asked.
“I only came for that. No honour, I’m not doing it,” Georgina said. She retched. “I don’t fancy being torn apart by a Strigoi.”
Lucinia gagged. That sounded awful.
“And I’m just here to support my future champion,” Ruben added.
“You look so good together,” Annabella said.
“You, quiet,” Georgina snapped.
“As before the bloodlines are divided into teams. But now, there are fewer restrictions on the powers.”
“And I don’t want to go against an unrestrained Necrarch, either,” Georgina added.
“The von Carsteins, Lahmians, Blood Dragons and Necrarchs have all been promised great reward. The Strigoi have made…interesting requests.”
Annabella looked disgusted for once. “I cannot believe any of my sisters or nieces would get involved in such a sport.”
“I suppose not all Lahmians have your standards,” Ruben observed.
Annabella gritted her teeth. “I suppose not.”
"You're watching this," Georgina pointed out.
"I suppose I need to relax at some point, and a battle is as good as any entertainment," Annabella replied, smiling as she flicked Georgina's hair.
Georgina stammered for a few moments, then composed herself.
Lucinia smiled at her cousin's embarassment.
Seeing the battle excited Lucinia like nothing ever had. Such a display of speed, powers and strength was fascinating. The only rule was that the contestants try not to hurt spectators. That left a lot of room for creative fighting.

There were three seemingly unarmed Lahmians, two Necrarchs, one Strigoi, accompanied by a small horde of foul-lloking creatures Annabella described as Ghouls - cannibals twisted by dark magic to be easy for Strigoi to control - and two Blood Dragons.
The battle opened with one of the Blood Dragons approaching the Strigoi, a hulking mass of flesh and muscle, and issuing a challenge.
The Strigoi snarled, and set its Ghouls loose. The pack seized upon the Blood Dragon. He was quick and skilled, against beings itactically equivalent to wild animals, but there were many of them, with corrosive poison. He defeated them, but not without great rents in his armour, and was notably staggering afterwards.
The Strigoi laughed and jumped on him. After aprolonged struggle, it defeated the Blood Dragon.
Lucinia muttered somethiing. It was a disappointing sight to see.
The other Blood Dragon was facing down the von Carsteins, along with one of the Lahmians.
The Lahmian, having along with her relatives neglected to wear fully-protecting armour, smiled at the von Carsteins and assumed a most alluring pose, no doubt assisted by magic. The von Cartseins staggered, and struggled not to look at her.
The Blood Dragon, presumably uncomfortable with the assisatnce, shrugged and charged his distracted opponents.
As he ran past, the Lahmian pulled out a knife
and rammed it into the Blood Dragon's spine. He froze, and then crumpled to the ground.
The von Carsteins froze as the Lahmian approached, until she leaned in to them, and they went to attack the Necrarchs.
The Strigoi ran towards the Lahmian. She tried to hypnotise him, but to no avail, and he batted her aside with a sickening crunch.
The vn Carsteins, freed of the influence stood, momentarily confused, and then one became a swarm of bats and flew about the monstrous vampire. It swung, but poorly, and succumbed to a flurry of teeth and claws. The von Carsteins turned back to the Necrarchs.
The Necrarchs, already engaged by the tow other Lahmians, were quite unperturbed by being faced by most of the competition. Spells fizzled about hem, but they seemed content to defend.
Now, they attacked, creating a great display of magic. The Lahmains suddenly aged very rapidly before falling to the ground
Lucinia heard a gasp from Annabella.
As for the von Carsteins, the Necrarchs created clouds of darkness that entangeld them and foueld their vision, before summoning swords of darkness and finishing them.


Mannfred calmed the ensuing roar from the stands with a wave of authority. “I give my congratulations to the Necrarchs V’raztra and Khazahas. They have proven the superiority of their bloodline this decade. The others…shall be revived and sent home in disgrace.”

“A most enjoyable show, wasn’t it?” Lucinia said happily upon exiting the stand. She was disappointed the Blood Dragons had failed, but it had not been an honourable fight.
“Indeed,” Georgina agreed.
“Grandfather is going to be upset,” Ruben said nervously. “The Count, I mean.”
Lucinia did a double take. “Him? Your grandfather? Oh, that is terrible.”
“I know. Thank you. Those contestants were of my parents’ generation.”
“It was not them. Besides, a von Carstein lord can hardly go about worrying all night, can he?” Lucinia added reassuringly. She hated seeing her friend like this. His nervous disposition was bad enough without it being aggravated.
To Lucinia’s relief, Ruben smiled. “No, he cannot. I shall be a lord, and act as one.”
“Of course you will,” Annabella agreed. “I am sure there is some of Vlad’s arrogance in ou.”
Ruben laughed. “I am sure. Now leave my sight before I have my champion here execute you for insulting me.”
Annabella smiled. “I do apologise, my lord.”
“At least let me try,” Georgina said. “I want to prove I can beat her.”
“I sense you are young and thin-blooded.”
“Thin-blooded?” Georgina had a delightfully shocked expression on her face. “I am of the third generation.”
“I am second. And over 800 years old.”
“I am…ah…centuries old.”
“Five, to be exact,” Luicnia supplied mischievously.
“I am going to ram my sword down your throat, hatchling,” Georgina muttered.
“Are you threatening my daughter?”
Lucinia, Georgina and Ruben all jumped at Luis’ growl. With Annabella they spun to see him glaring at Georgina.
“I was joking, Uncle Luis,” Georgina apologised.
“I am sure. Now, the tournament is over. I shall have my daughter back. And certainly away from you,” he added to Annabella.
“Oh, Luis, she wants to be with me.”
“Have you corrupted her?”
Ruben whispered into Georgina’s ear. She nodded. “Goodbye, Luicnia,” Ruben said. “I hope to see you again.”
“I also,” Georgina added. She made to hug Lucinia, but caught Luis’ eye and withdrew. “Farewell.”

When Lucinia slept, Shadow came to her as usual, this time at the fighting pit. “A fine show indeed.”
Lucinia nodded. “Thank you for protecting me from the Count.”
Shadow smiled, and a playful light entered her eyes. “It is my job.” She hugged Lucinia. “Now, my host, I have a suggestion for you. I am pleased that you are strengthening your bond with the Blood Dragon and the von Carstein.”
“Their names are –“ Lucinia began loyally.
“I know. As I was going to say, I am still disappointed that you are bonding with the Lahmian, although I am hiding myself for now.”
Lucinia blinked, admonished. “I cannot refuse her.”
“That is unfortunate. But she will not look for magic in a Blood Dragon.” Shadow brightened, and lowered her voice conspirationally, though they wre alone in Lucinia's mind. “Now, I have a suggestion. Tomorrow night, make an excuse. Say you wanted to visit Drakenhof, or something.”
“FMasterwould never –“
“You will persuade him. Or, perhaps, I shall speak for you. Our connection is strengthening.”
Lucinia grinned. This was exciting! Visiting an ancient castle! It would be such a tale for her friends. A small voice told her this was very stupid, but Shadow was so helpful, she deserved a request, and Lucinia felt she deserved some fun. “You’re my best friend, Shadow. What can I say?” She hugged the wind-warden, not noticing a brief flash of emerald in her eyes.
 
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Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Joined
Sep 29, 2013
Messages
1,559
#8
Six

“Please, Master.“ Lucinia insisted, sea-blue eyes bright. “I wish to visit Castle Drakenhof.” She was walking with Sir Luis near the arena as the vampire knight’s armour was repaired. He had taken part in a few jousts, and done very well.
“Why, my squire?” he asked, in a suspicious voice.
“I have never visited a powerful lord’s castle before.” Lucinia felt uncomfortable arguing against her master but Shadow’s warm mental presence soothed her. “And I have heard many legends of the home of the von Carsteins.”
“I should never have let you meet that child.” Luis shook his head. “But if you are so close, why do you not visit his?”
“Ruben’s parents would not have a young blood of a different line, he said. And which is better, Drakenhof or some minor holding?” Luicnia did not mean to insult her friend by comparison, but it was the truth.
Sir Luis frowned. “What business does one such as you have visiting one such as Count von Carstein?”
Luicnia swallowed. That was difficult, but Shadow had prepared her, with an explanation she quite liked. She loved her mind warden more and more. “Not with the Count himself. I would like to test my skills against his best men. If this tournament is anything to see, he is proud of bloodline contest and would like to see how his household fare against a child of Abhorash.”
Luis took her shoulder firmly, and Lucinia stopped, gritting her teeth in pain. “You are a child of lesser generation. He is a sorcerer, child of Vlad himself, and even if he allowed you to face one of his children – worse, one of his brothers – it would be no contest, both a waste of time for them, and danger for you.”
“I would not dare challenge the Count himself,” Lucinia protested as Shadow comforted her. “And certainly not to the death. I only wished to test myself at Drakenhof.”
“You have no idea what you ask, my squire. You are too young. A lord does not suffer an infant to play with his children. Think no more of this.”
“But –“
“No more,” Luis insisted, eyes glowing dangerously.
Lucinia’s shoulders slumped. “Yes, Master”
“When my armour is in shape, I shall take you somewhere you may lose your sickness and fight battles more truly at your level.”


“I tried,” Lucinia said miserably that day. She sat with Shadow on the coffin in her pavilion. The desire to visit Drakenhof grew within her every hour, and the shame of failure with it, along with the feeling she had disappointed Luis.
“And that is all you could have done, with Luis,” Shadow assured her with a smile.
“I shall have to wait a few centuries, then.”
“Who said that?” Shadow asked brightly. “You are a brave and proud warrior. You do not accept defeat.”
“But what can I do?” Lucinia asked.
Shadow placed a hand on Lucinia’s shoulder, affectionately squeezing it. “Go. No one need find out. I can shield you from their magical senses, and as long as you remain out of sight, you will be fine.”
That sounded most dishonourable to Lucinia. “Lahmians sneak. Not Blood Dragons.”
‘Oh, please, I know you are close to that Lahmian, and a real warrior does what she needs to win. And this is not battle, mere…sightseeing.”
“I am uncertain,” Luicnia said hesitantly.
“Do not be,” Shadow laughed. “I shall be with you all the way, and then you may treasure the sights you see."
That convinced her. She nodded. “How do I get in?”

The next night, Lucinia crawled through long-forgotten tunnels and alleys. The stench would have been bad enough for mortals, she supposed, but as a vampire her sense of smell was cruelly exaggerated. She pinched her nose.
Ha. Shadow sounded amused. If your nose defeats you upon the first challenge, you are unworthy of your blood.
“Quiet. I am concentrating.”
On not vomiting? Which a vampire cannot, at least. Shadow remained quiet after that.
Even without the mind warden’s teasing, the maze under Castle Drakenhof was a challenge. Rats ran here and there, whilst water dripped unseen. The young Blood Dragon wondered why lords allowed their castles to fall into such repair, before remembering vampires had different standards of repair, and the last mortal Count had been happy to marry his daughter to a daemon. Maintaining old tunnels was not a high priority.
Tarnished tapestries hung dejectedly from ancient walls beside what may have been windows. Lucinia wondered if there were hidden treasures amongst this waste of ages.
No.
Luicnia hissed. “Thank you very much.”

Eventually Lucinia crawled into more amenable surroundings and stood, dusting her legs.
“The things I do for my friends,” she muttered. “You don’t even get wet.”
Stop complaining. You want to do this as much as I.
“Stop being right.”
Stop complaining and have a look around.
Lucinia swallowed a sharp response and looked. She was in a dungeon, having pushed open a secret tunnel. It was, well, what she expected a dungeon to look like, with bars and cold stone. There was, however, something interesting. A rack full of liquids of various colours and instruments that all looked perfectly capable of of piercing Lucinia’s skin, along with a table with chains.
“I suppose this is where the Necrarchs set up.”
I suppose. Now let’s go somewhere more interesting.
Lucinia nodded and made to leave the dungeon. When she opened the bars, however, she stopped.
A pair of heavily armoured skeletons, trailing dark magic, turned to her. They were dressed in the remnants of the Drakenhof Guard, and corrosive magic pooled on their swords.
Lucinia bared her fangs and drew her own sword. “You said you would hide me,” she hissed.
For once, Shadow was quiet, perhaps in humiliation. The mind warden’s absence was the least of Lucinia’s problems, however. Turning her attention back to the outside world, she found herself moving back, and arrested that momentum. She was a granddaughter of Abhorash! She ddi not flee from skeletons!
Except, whoever controlled the skeletons would, if not directly looking through them now, would probably have received an intruder alert. Which meant more would be on the way. Which meant, contrary to her instincts, Lucinia would have to swallow her pride and run.
Sheathing her sword, the young Blood Dragon growled and then turned and ran for the secret tunnel, hoping it really was secret. As she approached, an explosion of shadow revealed one of the Necrarchs before, who slapped her with an ancient, rotten hand. The force was such that Lucinia blacked out.
 
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Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Joined
Sep 29, 2013
Messages
1,559
#9
Seven

Lucinia woke to burning pain in her wrists and ankles, and found herself chained by silver to the table in the dungeon. She bared her fangs and put on her bestial face as she tried not to scream.
The two Necrarchs stood beside the table, grinning viciously.
The more twisted, corpse-like one – a small difference, really – said, “I am V’raztra. This is Khazakas. Welcome to Castle Drakenhof.”
“It was really very kind of you to visit,” Khazakas said, circling the table. “Count von Carstein is reluctant to visit us.”
“You both look like corpses, so –“ Lucinia began before she received a slap.
“There’s no need for that,” V’raztra said. He had long talons he did not bother sheathing, along with curved fangs and desiccated flesh.
“After a quick operation, you may go,” Khazakas said. “We do not mean to detain you long.” His form was slightly more human looking, and he did not wear his talons so obviously.
Lucinia retreated into her mind. “Shadow, where are you?”
I am truly sorry, Hadris, but two Necrarchs are too much for me to hide you from. Will you forgive me? Shadow had never sounded so dejected.
“I forgive you,” Lucinia said, concerned about the mind warden’s distress.
“Khazakas, the instrument,” V’raztra ordered.
Khazakas bowed in a distinctly disrespectful manner, went to the shelf of items, and pulled out a decidedly unsafe looking tube, along with a small vial.
“We only require a small blood donation,” V’raztra explained. “Then, you may go.”
“Why not just bite me? You’re vampires.”
“It’s not for us,” Khazakas answered gleefully, approaching Lucinia.
Ignoring the pain of her bindings, Lucinia writhed and squirmed. It was hopeless. Khazakas approached closer, holding the tube up for her to see. Up close, his warped form was all the more disgusting, and his eyes all the deader.
When the tube was injected into her shoulder, Lucinia lost eh control and screamed.

Shortly after the injection, as Lucinia lay groaning in pain, even with Shadow’s soothing power, the bars of the dungeon rattled. Lucinia couldn’t see, being tied down the wrong way around, but recognised the voices.
“V’raztra, Khazakas, let my squire go, or you will never experiment on another person.”
Sir Luis!
“I find it so distasteful what your line does, and to see it up close to someone I care about? My heart is stone towards you,” Annabella said.
“Let her go, or I’ll kill you both!” Georgina declared.
A swarm of bats flew into the dungeon, and coalesced beside Lucinia into Ruben. “I am Ruben von Carstein, of the 4th generation, and you will allow my friend to leave without further harm to anyone.”
Lucinia had never heard the young – in both senses – von Carstein assertive. Then, he was a lord of the night. She smiled at the looks of anger on her captors’ faces.
‘The Necrarchs have always been despised,” V’raztra growled, face warping further. “Tonight, we shall prove what we obviously failed to show at the Games.”
Ruben let out a scream, and Lucinia saw blood streaming from him.
“We can slice his body to ribbons with a thought,” Khazakas warned.
“No,” Annabella growled. The bars screeched as they were pulled off their hinges
Ruben gasped as he stopped bleeding, and then bared his fangs. “Do not assault a child of Vlad von Carstein.” An almost tangible pulse of dark authority slammed out of him into the Necrarchs. They bowed reluctantly, and sank to their knees. “Stay away from my friends, gets of W’soran.”
Sir Luis entered, and began undoing the chains binding Lucinia to the table. She sighed in relief, swung her legs around and pushed herself up. She drew her sword and pointed it at V’raztra. “I’d follow his advice.”
“It takes more than a dull blade to slay me,” V’raztra growled, walking into the sword, then up it. Lucinia was so shocked she did not respond until his fangs were just about at her neck, at which point, she let go and jumped back.
V’raztra grunted and pulled the blade out of himself. Dark magic infused it.
You may want to run now, Shadow advised.
Before that could happen, however, Khazakas broke Ruben’s power, and flung a hand at him. Georgina jumped in the way, and sank to the ground. Lucinia saw her chest steaming. Ruben dropped to his knees and cradled her, equally angry and upset.
“I do the fireballs here,” Annabella said, for once wearing her bestial form. She pointed, and Khazakas caught fire. He shrieked, and exploded.
V’raztra muttered something about incompetence, and, shoving Lucinia aside, threw his sword at Sir Luis. The Blood Dragon caught it, and then gasped as it began to burn through his gauntlet.
Lucinia blinked. How dare that worm! “Annabella!” she called.
The :Lahmian turned, and her face reverted to its human form, filled with concern. She tried some dispelling magic, but V’raztra laughed. “You underestimate my power. That Blood Dragon shall be dead by sunrise. Hint: Never touch a sword once a Necrarch has.” He shadow-warp-teleported away, leaving only traces of dark magic and echoes of laughter.
Sir Luis had dropped to his knees. Luiciniaand Annabella rushed to him.
“Father, please. You’re strong and old.”
“There is only so much strength can protect against. I always hated magic.”
“If you had built a resistance at least, you would have had a better chance,” Annabella scolded.
“I said I would die before performing magic.”
“Sir Luis of Brettonia, you have always been a fanactical idiot about that.” And with that, she kissed his cheek.
Lucinia blinked. True, they acted in a strange way whenever they were together, but…
You’re blind, Shadow said bluntly.
“Don’t be shocked, Lucinia,” Annabella said. “It is possible for inter-line relationships. We’re friends, aren’t we?”
“I suppose. Now, can you heal him?”
Annabella frowned. “Those Necrarchs must have been playing when Ruben used his power. I’m higher generation than them, but I specialise in in illusion and fire. And they have a natural advantage through their blood.” She shook her head sadly. “I’m not sure I can stop this.”
Luis removed his helmet. “I’d hate to be saved by magic as much as killed by it. Stop fighting it.”
“Can you at least help Georgina?” Ruben asked.
Annabella rose to her feet and walked over to where Ruben was cradling Lucnia’s cousin. “Fortunately, this is a mere fireball. Her armour stopped some of it.” She whispered some words. “There, all better.”
Georgina blinked open her eyes. “Thank you, Annabella. Uncle Luis!”
“There’s nothing I can do.”
“You’re a second generation Lahmian! Surely!” Georgina pleaded, eyes gleaming.
Annabella shook her head. “I’m sorry.”
“Father,” Lucinia whispered. “Thank you for everything.”
He removed his helmet and coughed, producing black bile. “I failed. I died before you finished your training.” His veins had gone visibly black, and his eyes were bloodshot.
“I have learned a lot.”
“Not enough.”
“Uncle Luis? I can help.”
“How? I don’t want my squire involved with your Blood Monastery fanatics.”
“I can still train her without the religious parts,” Georgina said determinedly.
Luis considered, then nodded. “A Blood Dragon should finish her training. Lucinia, will you be Georgina’s squire?”
“I…I’d love to. Thank you, cousin.”
Georgina grinned. “Anything for family. But…can’t vampires be resurrected? I’ve come back once or twice.”
“I wouldn’t risk restoring someone filled with this much eldritch poison,” Annabella replied. “And Luis would hate it.”
“I would.”
“Idiot,” Annabella teased.
“Witch,” Luis replied in the same tone.

It turned out that Annabella owned a house nearby, so they took Sir Luis’ body there for cremation. The house was large and beautiful, and painted entirely in red. A blooming garden grew in front of two magnificent storeys. A stylised cat hung from the doorknocked.
“Put him in the back garden,” Annabella said, her face a steel mask and her body trembling ever so slightly.
“I’m going to kill those monsters,” Ruben said, eyes burning.
Annabella put an arm around him. “I want to punish them too. They will get what they deserve.”
“How did you know where I was?” Lucinia asked.
“Luis was going to leave, and noticed you were missing. He waited, then grew impatient. He asked me if I had seen you. We thought about it, and he old me about your request.” Annabella narrowed her eyes. “Luis died because of you, hatchling.”
“I…” Lucinia blinked, trembling under the fierce gaze of, she now strongly suspected, a bereaved partner. She knew it was her fault. Sneaking into castles was never a good idea.
Georgina put her arms around Lucinia while Shadow worked from the inside. The older Blood Dragon didn’t need to say anything, she just looked accusingly.
“I’m sorry,” Ruben mumbled, before a combined look made him step back. This was a private matter.
Annabella set Sir Luis’ body alight. “I’ll give you some time to grieve, and then I want you gone,” she said sternly.
Georgina went to hug Ruben. “I’ll see you another time, then, Wings. Remember to write.”
“Take care of yourself, Scales. And Lucinia.”
Lucinia couldn't face him.
 
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Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Joined
Sep 29, 2013
Messages
1,559
#10
Eight

“I’m sorry, Master,” Lucinia said to Sir Luis’ body in a soft, piteous voice. Sir Luis had not been gentle, but she had started to bond with him. “You shouldn’t have died that way. I shouldn’t have done that.”
“No, you shouldn’t have,” Georgina agreed matter-of-factly, fists clenched. “What possessed you to sneak about Drakenhof?”
Lucinia shrugged. “Curiosity, perhaps.”
Georgina growled. “That should be a lesson in curiosity, then. Or maybe just being careful about where one is curious enough to sneak about.”
“I know." Lucinia hesitated. Well, she was already in enough trouble, wasn't she? "Georgina, why did you offer to take me to the Blood Monastery? I was so stupid to do that, and got my master killed. Your uncle.”
Georgina sighed, unclenching her fists. “We weren’t that close. I respected him as my father’s brother, but he didn’t have much time for me.”
“Oh.” That explained why Sir Luis had been not exactly familial with Georgina. But it only reinforced Lucinia’s question.
“As for you being an idiot…” Georgina hugged Lucinia. “Even if you were the stupidest person in the world, you’d still be my little cousin.”
Lucinia smiled. “Thank you.”
“You’re very welcome. Now, how are you about sunlight?”
“Poor,” Lucinia admitted. The idea of burning up scared her, really.
Georgina’s emerald gaze warmed. “Then we can make that part of your training.”
This will be interesting, Shadow observed. I do hope you don’t burn us. You are so very young.
Lucinia blinked, internally shushing the mind warden. “I thought I’d have to wait until I was older.”
Georgina laughed. “If you’re strong enough, you’re old enough. I’ll take you to a cave, and we’ll test you tomorrow.”
Lucinia grinned, excited that her training was advancing and relieved that Georgina was still willing to help her.

Sunlight filled the entrance of the cave. Lucinia instinctively jumped back, eliciting affectionate teasing from Georgina, whose eyes glowed with amusement.
“You look as if I was about to toss you into a fire.”
“I’m sorry. I’ve just spent 6 years avoiding sunlight and now I’ll be deliberately exposing myself to it.”
Georgina nodded. “It’s a difficult experience. I’ll understand if you take a while. I took years to be comfortable walking about in daytime.”
“So, do I just hold my hand out into the light?” Lucinia immediately scolded herself. What else was she to do?
“Yes, little cousin,” Georgina replied dryly.
Bracing herself, Lucinia swallowed and held her hand out. On contact with the warm glow, her hand began steaming. She clutched it, screamed, and withdrew. It was pain she had never experienced before. Whoever had allowed this flaw into the process needed to be staked.
Georgina looked over the hand, concern in her eyes. She touched he burn, making Lucinia gasp. “Little cousin?”
Lucinia shook her head. “I’m alright, I believe. I’m just sore.”
Georgina stroked her hand. “We can wait a while before you try again, or you can go to sleep and do it another time.”
Luicnia’s blue eyes hardened. “I’ll do it again in a moment. I won’t be restrained by sunlight.”
“I love your attitude, little cousin,” Georgina said, affection in her eyes.
That hurt me, too. Don’t overestimate yourself, Hadris. You’re only 6.
“Try to be encouraging for once, would you?” Lucinia requested internally.
It’s not my job to encourage stupidity.
“And where were you in that cell? Did the Necrarchs find you?” Despite her confusion, Lucinia was concerned.
I barely hid, but no, they did not, Shadow reassured her. Do not underestimate their power.
“Georgina? I’m ready again.”
“Perhaps just a finger this time,” the older Blood Dragon suggested.
“No. I’ll do my full hand. I’m strong.”

By the time night fell, Lucinia’s hand was quite burnt, but at least she felt she had broken her fear of the sun. She would endure it, and eventually not consider it at all.
“You exerted yourself a lot today,” Georgina said, laying down beside her. We can try again tomorrow, or just wait for another time.”
Lucinia rubbed her hand. “I need to bite someone, and then wait a while.”
“I understand.”

Lucinia dreamed she was in the cave, with Shadow, who looked proud.
This is a step for you, Hadris Shadow commented. Are you sure you will meet the standards of warrior fanatics?
“Georgina is quite alright, and she will train me.”
She seems on your side, for now at least. Cocked eyebrow. What about this religious nonsense?
“I’ll go through the motions. Listen to me, Shadow. I need a Blood Dragon to train me, and this is the best opportunity. I will learn to be a great Blood Dragon.”
As long as you are not poorly treated on suspicion of favouritism.
Lucinia groaned. “All vampires within a line are related.”
Shadow shook her head. There is a difference between being blood-relatives and declaring your relationship. Draconia is quite open that she is the Grand Marshal’s daughter, and you very much treat one another as cousins
“I’ll be fine,” Lucinia insisted. With a smile, she added, “And there will be no magic for you to hide from.”
Shadow clasped Lucinia’s shoulder. A most welcome relief, Hadris.

Feeling recovered after some hunting, Lucinia followed Georgina to the Blood Monastery, both wearing their armour. When they arrived, Lucinia froze in awe. Thick walls surrounded austere stone buildings, from which grim windows stared. A flag of a sword on a red background hung from the top of the central building.
Georgina removed her helmet, revealing a proud smile. “Welcome to the Blood Monastery. Although I prefer to call it home.”
“It looks…impressive.”
“I’m glad you like it. Now, I’ll tell the guards to let us in, and then, well, you’ll see.”
The gatekeepers, armoured in what resembled dragonscale, like Georgina, opened the gate quickly, and Lucinia followed her cousin in, marvelling at the Monastery.
Inside, Lucinia was guided to a waiting room. Georgina disappeared for a time, and then returned with an ornately dressed, light haired man.
The man smiled. “Welcome to the Blood Monastery. I am Marshal Priest Verrin.”
 
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Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Joined
Sep 29, 2013
Messages
1,559
#11
Nine

“It is an honour to receive a declared relative of the Grand Marshall,” Verren said.
“Declared relative?” Lucinia's head spun at the strange phrase.
“All descendants of one of the Masters are related. It is a question of whom you claim beyond your sire as family.”
“So by claiming Georgina as my cousin…” Lucinia said.
“You claim the Grand Marshall as your uncle.”
“Do you not all claim him?”
“Only a very close bond with one of his children allows claim, by our rules,” Georgina explained. “You’re fortunate.”
“So, does this mean anything for me?”
“Practically, no,” Georgina admitted. “But you get status and honour. And perhaps favour,” she added in tone suggesting she did not receive it.
“The Grand Marshall is strict but dedicated to each of us achieving our goal.”
“And that is…?”
Georgina flashed a glance saying just bear with us.
“Communion with Lord Abhorash, achieved through blood, prayer and sacrifice.”
“A most noble goal,” Lucinia said. In her opinion, being old and powerful was not qualification for divinity. Divinity was, and Whatever else he was, Abhorash was basically an immortal human. But she would keep that to herself.
“Indeed,” Verren agreed. “Now, you should look around your new home.”
“I recommended her. I should introduce her,” Georgina offered.
“Very well. Return with her tomorrow night to the chapel for induction.”
“Chapel? Induction?” Lucinia asked as they walked out of the building.
Georgina shook her head. “Don’t worry, little cousin. You’ll just swear to follow Lord Abhorash’s teachings, and follow my teachings as instructor.”
“Sounds easy enough. Shall we begin?”
“I’ll take you to the main hall first. It’s where we conduct business. Meals, meetings…”

The main hall was, on the exterior, grey slab with orange joins, the door plain.
“Aside from our religious duties, we’re very functional,” Georgina said.
“I noticed,” Lucinia replied. She opened the door and found a large table surrounded by chairs. On the other side of the room was a giant statue of a red-orange armoured warrior holding a sword, two hands on the grip, point on black stone. His helmet was fully concealing.
“Lord Abhorash,” Lucinia guessed. “And I thought this was a functional meeting room.”
Georgina laughed. “Mostly functional. Father says we need Lord Abhorash’s gaze to remind us of our goal.”
“I see.”
Various other parts of the Monastery were explored, the most interesting being the chapel and the ice cavern.
The chapel was small, with a sloping roof. Inside were pews, a statue of Lord Abhorash, a podium held by a small dragon, and paintings.
“The Revelation in the Jungle and the Defence of the Library. Or Throne Room.” Georgina laughed nervously. “It was a long time ago in a kingdom far, far away, and we don’t know which.”
The Revelation in the Jungle showed a warrior subduing, unarmed, a fearsome looking beast.
“I suppose this is Lord Abhorash.” Lucinia had somehow expected, despite knowing vampires froze in age, her grandfather to look…grandfatherly. Old.
“Yes,” Georgina confirmed. “I think Acceptance would be a better title, because here he accepted his nature, but Father says Revelation gets the point across better.”
“I suppose.”
The Defence of the Library/Throne Room showed five warriors guarding the steps of a huge building in a desert city against thousands of other warriors. All wore strange war garb.
“Lord Abhorash held thousands of enemies back by himself, almost, for a day.”
“Father never mentioned any of this.”
“Uncle Luis was never interested in his father’s history. He only wanted to be the best warrior he could.” Georgina’s eyes gleamed. “If you like, I could tell you the context.”
Lucinia nodded. “Yes, please.” It was so exciting, learning about her grandfather’s earliest days. This was her history. Even if she did not accept Abhorash was some kind of god, it was still part of her.
Georgins explained how Neferata’s turning of her court into vampires upset the rulers of fellow city-states, and led to a war. Abhorash defended Lahmia as long as he could, but eventually the vampires had to scatter.
Lucinia raised an eyebrow. “The Blood Dragon defending the Lahmian?”
Georgina swallowed. “The bloodlines didn’t really exist, politically at least, then. I suppose it’s not something you’ll want to discuss with Annabella next time you see her.”
“I suppose not,” Lucinia agreed. She didn’t know what Annabella thought of Abhorash, or what Neferata thought of him, but it probably wouldn’t be good to admit too much.
Georgina squeezed Lucinia’s shoulder. “Don’t worry about it, little cousin. It’s only history. Now, shall we visit the ice cavern?”

Under the main building was a large chamber filled with ice. It covere the floor and hung from the ceiling. It was so cold Lucinia found herself shivering.
“Hatchling,” Georgina teased. “You’ll get over it.”
“This runs against everything else here,” Lucinia pointed out, ignoring the jibe.
“You mean the fire theme?”
“Yes.”
“Look over there.”
A row of coffins rested at the end of the chamber. Well, there had been several well-armed guards outside, unhappy to let in a strange face until Georgina reminded them who her father was.
“Father says he ripped an Ice mage’s heart out and buried it here. The death-throes, and the heart, haze frozen this place over, to keep mortals away from regenerating brothers and sisters. If you think you’re cold, imagine how hard it would be for mortals.”
Hypocrite! Shadow hissed.
“Your father is very clever,” Lucinia noted, shushing her mind-warden.
Georgina nodded. “I admire that.”
“I love what he’s made here, even if I don’t agree with the purpose. Now, where do we sleep?”

Bed turned out to be a cramped cell with room only for lying down next to scant possessions, and requiring one to crawl in and out.
“Hardship strengthens the spirit,” Georgina explained.
“Even for the Grand Marshall’s family?”
“Once you’ve truly become his family, you get a proper room.”
“I want to bite you,” Lucinia growled, baring her fangs in irritation.
Physical rewards for spiritualism? Shadow wondered sceptically, to Lucinia’s complete agreement.
“Please don’t, little cousin.” Georgina smiled, allowing small points of white to slid out from her lips. “I’d hate to have to carry you to a coffin for regeneration on your first night. And besides, I wouldn’t feel much like training you afterwards.”
“Any other surprise privileges?”
“Not really…although, you get better armour. Father says his armour is real dragonscale.”
“I hate you,” Lucinia muttered, with no force behind the words.
“Such dirty words from such cute fangs.” Georgina squeezed Lucinia’s shoulder. “Sleep well. We start with the bell.”
“Good day, Georgina,” Lucinia said retracting her fangs. She did not think of her fangs as 'cute', but what did she know?
“Good day, little cousin.”

Today’s dream scene was the ice cavern. Shadow looked surprisingly happy when she appeared.
“Hello, Hadris. How was your first night?”
“Good, I suppose. I think I’ll like it here. Even if there are certain privileges to rank.”
“Right, yes. If you work hard enough you will probably earn them. Especially if Georgina puts in a word for you.”
“She’s too professional for that.’
Shadow cocked a brow. “Really? She spends her time laughing with you.”
“When we’re not training,” Lucinia added. She liked a trainer who was skilled on duty, a best friend off duty.
“You win there. Now, Hadris. I have a question for you. How anti-magic are these Blood Dragons/”
“Very.”
“And what powers this cavern?”
“A mage’s heart.”
“Yes, well, that in itself is dubious. Mages don’t linger, and neither does their power, outside of the Necromantic school of magic. Although, there is legend of elven mages holding a magic drain open in Ulthuan. But they were the most powerful mages of their time, and elves. I suppose different rules apply.” Shadow slapped herself. “Shadow-of-Doubt, stop rambling,” she growled.
“I see your point. But how do you know anything I don’t?” Lucinia thought she had asked before, and was determined not to be brushed off again.
“I know what memory passed from your father’s blood.”
“And Abhorash’s too, I suppose.”
“And his ancestors for many generations beyond. But I won’t bore you with ancient history.”
“Thank you.” Lucinia grinned. “What were you saying before.”
“I think our Grand Marshall here is lying. What Georgina says he did is impossible. I detect no magic beyond small, latent abilities here.”
“The head of an order of Blood Dragons? Lying? That sounds hard to believe,” Lucinia noted.
“It does, Hadris. But from what I am sensing, the story is not true. Which leaves one alternative.”
Lucinai frowned, and then gasped. “He did it himself.”
“As I said, hypocrite.”
“But he said he hates magic!”
“Words and deeds are not necessarily connected.”
“What should we do?”
“Leave." Shadow hissed. "He’s lying to them.”
“I can’t leave.” Lucinia shook her head. “All these people are following a false leader. And I certainly can’t leave my cousin under a delusion.”
Shadow shook her head. “You’ve always been so romantic. Do you really think you can survive exposing an ancient warrior-mage? But it’s your body.”
Luicnia folded her arms and looked at the mind-warden sternly. “Exactly, and I plan to use it how I see fit, thank you very much.” Luicnia blinked. “Was that rude Shadow? I do apologise.”
Shadow smiled. “No need. Telling you to leave was my mistake, and for that I am very sorry.”
Lucinia put her arms around the mind warden. “It’s your job to protect me. There is nothing to forgive.”
Shadow brushed Lucinia’s hair and then broke away. “Very well. As for what to do, I have an idea.”
 
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Joined
Oct 5, 2017
Messages
49
#12
"As you said, it's not the most important part." I get it, but allow me to quickly resume the first chapter : "Ho, some unknown creepy man want to fight. Okay. Well, he want to teach me ? Why not. Ho damn, he's a vampire ! ... why not."
It's seems pretty... quick if you see what i mean.

As i keep reading, it slowly gets better as the story move on. But still, i find it hard to identify myself to your character. It's due - mainly - because you lack descriptions. You got plenty speech bewteens your characters but... no tone, no emotions, no body language, no hope or darkness shinning in the eyes. No hesitation, fear, remorse, reflexion... just agreement :'(

It could be soo good with it. Even if it is a setup for the big things, it's in this kind of details you'll pin the interest of your readers.

Sooo... I'll not expend my comment anymore on this detail.



I found the "min-warden" quite interesting. Some sort of entity or schizophrenia, hard to tell, but really funny to study. I really like the Shadow character.

The tournament organized by Mannfred is also an original curiosity. I would have read those no-honor battle with hunger. But find these two necracs later was interesting too.

I wanna look for the next chapter with this fake warrior.
 

Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Joined
Sep 29, 2013
Messages
1,559
#13
Yeah, I feel really bad abut the first chapter too. All your points are very good. I'll re-write it soon.
 
Joined
Oct 5, 2017
Messages
49
#14
Maybe not rewrite it. Especially if it's already a reboot...

Keep it as it is and move on. Roma did'nt built itself in one day. It need practices, pages, pages and pages written to became abhora... i mean to get the perfection. And to know it's own weakness and work on it is the first step to it ;-)
 

Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Joined
Sep 29, 2013
Messages
1,559
#15
Well, I'm not entriely re-wriitng it. Just adding what you suggested into what's already there. Althoguh the first chapetr is certainly re-written.
 

Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Joined
Sep 29, 2013
Messages
1,559
#16
Eleven

Induction into the Blood Monastery as a novice involved an elaborate ritual, which Georgina was helping Lucinia prepare for. They sat on a bench chair outside the main hall under the full moon, which glistened off their pale skin.
"We praise Lord Abhorash and ask him to impart his teachings into a new follower. The novice swears to serve Lord Abhorash faithfully and honestly, and the teacher swears to pass on the lessons truthfully."
"That sounds simple enough," Lucinia noted, relieved. "I had expected some complicated ritual or test."
Georgina smiled. "Initiation as full member requires such a test. Which I achieved easily."
"Stop bragging," Lucinia protested, slapping Georgina's shoulder.
"Do keep your hand off the Grand Marshall's daughter," Georgina warned in artificially haughty tones, making herself look more serene and regal than she usually did.
"In do apologise, princess."
"That is simple mockery."
Is this going anywhere? Shadow demanded, irritation clear in her mental tone.
"I'm sorry. It's what companions do."
Ah, right. Have you decided whether to tell her?

Lucinia had agonised all day whetehr to tel Georgina the truth before she revealed it to everyone. It seemed her duty as friend and cousin to be honest, but, as Shadow warned, Georgina might react in some unpredictable way. It was her Blood Dragon honour versus her survival instincts. Now, forced to confront the issue, her honour won out.
"Georgina," she said nervously.
"Little cousin, you voice is caught as if considering admitting a crime!" Georgina exclaimed, slapping her shoulder. "Speak."
You;re right, Shadow said.
"In a way, I am," Lucinia admitted.
Georgina raised an eyebrow, and then shook her head. "Little cousin," she said soothingly. "you're an idiot, but not a criminal."
"It's not me. I'm very sorry, Georgina." Lucinia blinked, and found herself wanting to hide. How would she respond if given the revelation? "The Grand Marshall, your father...he's lying to everyone, possibly you as well."
Georgina froze, and then blinked. "What did you say?"
"The Grand Marshall is lying," Lucinia repeated nervously.
You were a good companion, Shadow said.
Georgina's face warped. and her fangs extended. "Say that again."
Luciniai repeated the damning phrase.
Georgina growled, eyes red. Her face moved perilously close to Lucinia's. "Don't. Say. That."
Sliding along the bench chair, both surprised and not at her friend's reaction. "It's true. My encounter with magic made me decide to do some research. While we were travelling here I found a book on Ice Magic."
Well done. Your first full lie.
"I'm busy!"
"What do you mean? Why should a Blood Dragon want magic?"
"Just to protect myself. I know I wasn't attacked by Ice, but it was the only book I could find. Listen, please. I found a spell that does what your father said his killing the Ice Mage did. You cannot freeze a cavern with the death of an Ice Mage, at least not for long. He did it himself!"
"No, you're lying.I don't know why, but you want my father gone." Georgina shook her head. "You've spent too much time with Annabella. I thought I liked her, too, but she's Lahmian. Uncle Luis was right to warn you away from them. She made you do this."
"Why would she? What does she have to gain by discrediting a Blood Dragon cult?" Lucinia asked.
"Lahmains have their ways," Georgina said, fuming.
"If that's true, I'm very, very sorry." It wasn't, but she was, and it was the only way she would stay a the Monastery long enough.
Georgina's face became human again, and was filled with delight. She hugged Lucinia. "I'm sorry you were under her spell. You'll be safe here. I do forgive you, oh so much. Are we still friends?"
Lucinia squeezed Georgina. "If you want. Thank you."
Georgina hugged tighter. "You're my little cousin. I love you more than anyone in the world. Of course I still want to be your friend."
Very well done, Shadow observed with great admiration.
"Thank you," Lucinia replied with pride.
After a few more minutes of Lucinia snuggling herself against Georgina's comforting grip, they parted.
"The induction is soon. We should get ready."

Lucinia found herself dressed in a light replica of Nehekharan - Abhorash's land - palace guard uniform. Beside her, Georgina was a in more ornate version. They were in one of anumber of small, private changing areas. This was one thing that made Lucinia hate not having a reflection.
"It's adapted from what we know of the uniforms back then. Father feels it appropriate if the ceremony represent the senior palace guard welcoming a newly promoted soldier to the ranks." the older Blood Dragon explained.
Lucinia smiled. "A good taste." The Grand Marshall was evidently dedicated to Abhorash's history, if not honesty.
Georgina clapped Lucinia's shoulder. "Isn't it? Come on, little cousin. We mustn't be late."

The chapel was filled with senior Blood Monks in variously ornate uniforms and armour. Candles burned gently. It was a beautiful scene, really. Lucinia wished she didn't feel revolted by the idea of deifying a human being, especially a parody of one. Sigmar had been her god as an Imperial subject, but he had united an Empire, defeated orcs and undead and Chaos, and, well, done more than just kill a dragon. Although Lucinia was beginning to appreciate that, too.
One figure towered over all. The Grand Marshall. A red cape draped from his shoulders. Fire blazed from eye-slits in a dragon's head helmet. His entire suit was dragonscale, with orange highlighting the gaps between the plates. He certainly liked to impress.
Lucinia and Georgina stood before him, facing one another.
"Lord Abhorash, look upon your servant, Georgina Draconia, my daughter. Give her the wisdom to pass on your teachings to her student, Lucinia Hadris, daughter of Sir Luis of Bretonnia." His voice was powerful and metallic, proud when he spoke Georgina's name.
"Lord, I swear to teach all I know so my student shall be," Georgina promised in a reverential tone.
Don't tell me you're falling for this nonsense, Hadris, Shadow hissed.
"It's ceremonial," Lucinia hissed back, before saying in the real world, "Lord, I swear to learn well your teachings so I may serve you faifhtfully."
"See that you keep theee promises," the Grand Marshall intoned.

Training began soon, and was hard. It was outside in the whatever weather, in light clothing, with real weapons. The only ruel was that they weren't trying to kill each other.
Lucinia was impressed by Georgina's skill. The older Blood Dragon cut and sliced with perfection, turning battle into a dance too fast for the eyes to see. She would be a deadly opponent to purely mundane foes.
"Don't sell yourself short, little cousin," Georgina reassured one morning after training. "You're doing very well, learning very quick. You're not a complete idiot."
Lucinia matched her cousin's grin, and went to her bed.
Joking aside, Lucinia noticed her skill was definitely improving, and almost considered abandoning her plan in exchange for perfecting it, or at least delay it.
"No," Shadow said firmly, arms folded, when Lucinia broached the suggestion. The dream scene was, as if in reminder, the ice cavern. "You hate lying? The sooner you do what you what you have to do the sooner you can stop lying. And what use is Blood Dragon without conviction? You know, Hadris, you must be the least confident Bloo Dragon ever,"
Lucinia growled. "I do not lack confidence. I just feel I would be wasting an excellent training opportunity. I let Georgina convince herself I was tricked into saying what I told her, but she won't understand next time." Lucinia sighed and paced up and down the cavern. "Shadow, I trust your judgement - I'm sure Drakenhof wasn't your fault - but sometimes I need to trust my own."
"You have foreevr to train. A few months under one teacher isn't worth compromising your morals."
"Haven't I compromised them already?"
Shadow shrugged. "Further?"

An opportunity came weeks later. Lucinia was invited to join a hunting expedition, against orcs on the border of Sylvania. She gladly accepted
The orc encampment consisted of poorly made tents and walls, and an overpowering stench. Beyond the darkness of SYlvania called.
The small group of Blood Dragons, led by a Knight Marshall, approached the encampment. Lucinia was excited. This was the first time in her life she was doing what she felt she was meant to do.
Exhilarating, isn't it? Although, not having a body I have no idea how I know that. Shadow trailed off into confusion
Lucinia sent laughter and a playful barb in return.
Ignoring poorly aimed bow shots from the wall, the mall group charged into the encampment. At first, it was easy. The orcs were unprepared and easy to lance. But soon resistance built, and then Lucinia heard a great roar like she had never heard. A giant orc wielding a huge mace lumbered over.
The Knight Marshall answered the challenge. They traded blows, but the orc was too great, and caved his skull in.
Georgina gathered the survivors, and under her disciplined leadership - she had always favoured pragmatism, Lucinia had found - the camp was cleared.
Afterwards, Lucinia knelt to try an orc, but felt herself being pulled up by the shoulder.
"They taste as bad as they smell," Georgina warned. Then she laughed. "Now the fun part. Novices have the honour of placing the fallen in the coffins for regeneration."
I suspect she enjoys inflicting on others what once was inflicted on her., Shadow noted drrily Also, I am aware close family enjoy tormenting one another..
Lucinia would have volunteered by necessity of the plan she and Shadow had produced, so her retaliatory "I want to bite you," was weak.
"Oh, please, I saved everyone Honour is fine, but not safe." She lifted her visor, grinning. "Let's go home."

Accompanied by an honour guard, Lucinia deposited the Knight Marshall's body into a coffin in the ice cavern. And then, before she could have second thoughts, cast the spell Shadow had given her. It illuminated the cavern in shining green.
Suddenly Lucinia was surrounded by very angry vampires with fangs and swords. She swallowed, but mostly kept her composure. "Please, I am only revealing a trick. The Grand Marshall enchanted the ice cavern himself. This si the trace."
"You know what happened. he crushed an Ice mage. And where is your magic from?"
"I read a book on Ice magic. Mage hearts don't do this, at least not without a spell."
"You dirty the name of the Grand Marshall, fool. For this you will die."
"You can't kill me. By Monastery law I can appeal to the Grand Marshall."
"You have confessed."
"You would risk the wrath of the Grand Marshal's daughter?" Lucinia suspected Georgina would believe the accusations and not mind her death, which hurt, but it was the best card she had.

The main hall filled with spectators wondering what crime a novice, the exalted Georgina Draconia's student, could be accused of. Lucinia stood before the statue of Lord Abhorash. It seemed to glare at her, asking, You dare challenge my son?
Georgina arrived, and her emerald eyes showed equal parts confusion and betrayal. "Little cousin, what have you done?"
The Grand Marshall's arrival silence the speculation. He wore his armour as before, and walked with purpose to the base of the statue.
A simply dressed Blood Dragon hurried up and announced the charge: Use of Magic by a Resident of the Blood Monastery.
"Speak the truth, and Lord Abhorash shall judge you fairly," the Grand Marshall said.
"You lie. You have lied since freezing the ice cavern. You enchanted it yourself."
"IAnd what makes you think that?"
"I have read books on Ice magic. Only spell can do what has been done." Lucinia was terrified now, but with Shadow's emotional support controlled her shaking.
"Amusing. But frivolous."
Lucinia cast the spell against, lighting the Grand Marshall in brilliant emerald..
Hurry. He is fighting it, Shadow warned.
"That is his magical signature. Sense him."
""A light show is no proof," the Grand Marshall said, somehow, frustratingly, unperturbed. His expressionless dragon-skull helmet didn't help.
"She speaks the truth!" someone gasped. "Sense him!"
As the shocking revelation spread across the hall, Lucinia looked to where Georgina stood, and saw utmost anger.
"Please, Georgina. I hate this as much as you do. But can you live under a deceptive father? His very law is a lie."
"She is merely creating a magical sense," the Grand Marshall said calmly.
He has stopped fighting. If he shuts the spell down, they will still sense his magic.
So Lucinia did the only tthing she could: She ended her spell.
The glow vanished, but the Grand Marshall still radiated power.
Georgina's eyes hardened, and she turned her gaze to her father. "You have deceived all of us, and most of all me, your daughter. There can be no explanation for building an edifice on deception. Leave now."
The Grand Marshall tilted his helmet, and retreated without a fight.
"Now what happens?" Lucinia asked.
Georgina glared at her. "You leave, too, sorceress. I feel little but hatred for your betrayal of my trust and patronage."
Lucinia nodded. it was what she had expected. "I'm sorry, very sorry."
"That doesn't matter. Just go." For a moment Lucinia thoguht Georgina wanted to cry. But that was stupid: vampires couldn't cry.
Lucinia departed from the Blood Monastery wondering where to go.
 

Count Vashra

Lord of Shadows
True Blood
Joined
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Messages
1,559
#17
Epilogue

Lucinia knocked on the door with eh cat-shaped knocker. She and Shadow had argued for weeks. Shadow insisted Lucinia was now alone, having upset all her friends. Lucinia insisted they would understand. In the end, they decided there was no point in not trying, so now Lucinia came to Annabella for succor. Blood Dragons were supposed to be loners, oddities like the Blood Monastery aside, but she was so young, and still needed a teacher. Choosing a Lahmain was ironic, but she like Annabella so much, and hoped her friend's thoughts had cleared of her grief.
Lucinia's throat seized when the door opened, unsure of the welcome, but to her relief, Annabella smiled. "Hello, Lucinia. It's been a long time since we've talked, hasn't it?"
Lucinia smiled. Her throat untangled. "Yes, it has." She relaxed. "May I come in?"
"Please do."
Inside, Lucinia removed her armour and joined Annabella on a couch in a living room on the top storey. The window gave an impressive view of the street around. The room was coloured black and gold, with fine carpeting and excellent paintings of various animals.
"Yes, I like nature," Annabella said when Lucinia pointed quizzically. "So...honest. No politics." She moved closer towards Lucinia. "Now, you seem quite upset. Please tell me if I can help." She put her hands on her lap.
"You're not still angry with me?" Lucinia's fingers twitched nervously.
"Annabella shook her head. "i was upset. I understand it as childish curiosity." Annabella smiled. "I got a letter from that beautiful cousin of yours, Georgina, telling me not to blame you. She can be so sweet when she's pleading understanding." She twirled Lucinia's hair absent-mindedly.
Lucinia swallowed. "I...might not be her cousin any longer."
Annabella raised an eyebrow.
After explaining everything that had happened, Lucinia looked into Annabella's black eyes for hints fo response. The Lahmain thought for a moment, and then frowned. "A deceptive Blood Dragon? That sounds wrong."
"Yes," said Lucinia, who was still hiding Shadow.
"There's something that doesn't make sense here, child," Annabella said. Unlike last time the word was purely affectionate in use. "You don't know magic. Please, as long as you haven't stolen any of my magic books I won't be angry. Tell me how you knew."
Hadris, be careful here.
"I have to tell her. She'll sense you regardless."
You promised!
Shadow pleaded.
"She likes me, and I'll make her promise no to hurt you."
Alright, I accept,
Shadow conceded sulkily.
Lucinia smiled, sea-blue eyes glowing. "Annabella, there's someone I'd like you to meet..."

That finishes this part of the story. Stay tuned for further adventures.
 
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